With all the recent extreme storms we’ve been having, preparing for the next one should be on everyone’s minds. Obviously storm preparation tips will vary depending on whether you live on the coast, in the woods, or the wide open plains. But there are some common things that all of us can do to get prepared for the next catastrophic storm no matter where we live. One key to all the storm preparation tips out there is very clear: don’t wait for the next storm, get prepared NOW.
#1 FLOOD INSURANCE
Many people don’t realize their home owners insurance policy does not cover flood damage caused by storms. If that’s the case for you, consider getting a supplemental flood insurance policy, even if you don’t live on the coast. Excessive rains caused by these monster storms are causing dams to break, rivers to jump their banks, and landslides in some areas. Talk to your insurance agent, and find out how you can be best protected should your home be damaged by flooding.
#2 MAKE A RECORD OF WHAT YOU OWN
Most people cannot remember everything they own, and insurance companies won’t cover items you don’t remember or can’t prove you own. Right now, before you need it, either photograph your house room by room to document all the major items or compile a written list of everything along with their approximate purchase date and cost (receipts are fantastic if you have them). Store the photos in the cloud, and keep the written inventory in your safe deposit box or somewhere else that will be protected.
#3 EVACUATION PLAN
Most storm preparation tips include having a plan in place ahead of time that is shared by other members of your extended family so that everyone will be on the same page in the event that communications go down. My brother lives on St Croix, and after Hurricane Maria he was able to contact our mom to let her know he was safe the day after the storm, and she contacted the rest of the family. Not knowing if loved ones are safe or not adds tremendous stress to an already stressful situation, so get your plan set in place before you need one.
Other storm preparation tips include keeping a backpack filled with essentials ready to go in case you have to evacuate your home quickly, filled with flashlight, extra batteries, cash, several changes of clothes, identification, food, first aid kit and a written list of important phone numbers and contacts.
#4 STAY ON TOP OF HOME MAINTENANCE
Hurricane Irma brought down a gigantic tree in our yard, which thankfully missed our house and driveway when it crashed to the ground, bringing other smaller trees down with it. Since then, we’ve taken stock of the other trees surrounding our house, and realize we have other unhealthy trees that risk coming down in the next storm. Storm preparation tips always include doing preventative maintenance, from simple things like keeping your gutters clean to major things like making sure your roof is in good shape and not in need of replacement. If you do need to replace your roof, consider upgrading to hurricane proof standards that will make it much more likely to weather the kind of storms that are getting more and more common.
#5 STOCK UP ON ESSENTIALS
Storm preparation tips will generally advise having at least 72 hours worth of supplies, including drinking water, food, candles, and batteries. Generators are great if you can afford one, but again, waiting until you need it is not a good idea. Just prior to a hurricane it may be difficult to buy plywood and other materials used to board up homes, so if you have room to store it you may want to stock up now. Although our home is located well inland from the coast, we still had 50mph winds from Irma, which was a real wake up call. We lost power for two days, and were thankful to have plenty of water and supplies on hand to share with our friends from Florida who made it out of Naples just before Irma made landfall.